After Three Years of Hate, the Dems Have Lost It
Writing in the Atlantic (“This is No Way to Beat Trump”) Thomas Nichols, a self-described former Republican and #NeverTrumper, castigates Democrats for their failure to take down President Trump, in light of the disorganized Iowa Caucus and the party’s unimpressive stable of candidates. In the piece, Nichols pretends to dispense hard-headed political advice. In fact, the article reveals why he and the Democrats he wants to help are floundering. Their perception of the world is so distorted by manic dislike of President Trump that they have ceased to act as a responsible political party which can offer a reasonable alternative.
The very premise of Nichols’ case, and by extension that of the Democrat party and all its putative candidates, is that beating Trump must be their principal goal, eclipsing all other concerns. Nichols thinks the Democrats are not attempting to do this -- which is preposterous. But more interestingly having come to this false conclusion, he has no prescription for exactly how to beat Trump, only that it must be done.
Of course, beating Trump has been the monomania of the Democrats (and #NeverTrumpers) for over three years. It’s the first and last thing out of all the candidates’ mouths when they speak, and one of the few things they agree upon.
The Washington Post recently ran a typical article highlighting the malady entitled “’Tempted to despair’: Trump’s resilience causes Democrats to sound the alarm.” Huh? Are we talking about a presidential campaign or a soap opera? It’s quite as if Trump were ill, the Dems suffering heirs hoping he’ll just die -- which is probably not far from the truth.
Manias in general are not good things. Occasionally a smart or extremely lucky maniac reaches his objective. Much more often mania sidetracks its victim by severely narrowing his focus, depriving him of necessary context and a broader and more realistic picture of reality.
That’s what’s happened to the Democrats. The Iowa caucus disaster is one symptom. The failed impeachment of Trump another. The stable of unstable Democrat candidates yet another.
Which bring us to George Orwell’s 1984, but not in the usual way. Big Brother is usually the focus of such commentary, the putative leader of dystopic totalitarian Oceania, a fellow both Comrade Sanders and tribal chief Warren can easily admire.
Often forgotten is Big Brother’s antagonist, Emmanuel Goldstein. He is the subject of a daily “two minutes hate,” which is where the novel opens. The “two minutes hate” is part of Oceania’s political regimen, required of all citizens. It’s not clear at all in the novel that Goldstein is real, or just an invention of regime propaganda, yet it doesn’t matter. The two minutes hate is designed to deflect the population’s anger and fear away from the regime to this supposed enemy of the people.
It’s a sick regime, which is the point of the story.
And it’s pretty easy to see in the modern Democrat party the same dynamic taking hold, albeit before they have actually achieved total political control. Trump in almost every respect is the Dems' Emmanuel Goldstein, a subject of such mindless animus and vituperation that the party can’t see the forest for the trees. It’s been three years of hate, and way more than two minutes a day.
Modern therapeutic psychology would suggest an intervention, and in the United States such a role has often been played by the press. Historically, when a party or politician went off the deep end, there was a vibrant press to point it out, mock it, and return things to semblance of rationality. That has not been the case in America for a generation or two now, with the mainstream media having lost most all semblance of objectivity to become the Democrats' great enabler. And indeed, the mandarins of the modern media are, if anything, even more Trump-afflicted than the party that they supposedly cover.
Very much like a schizophrenic, neither the Dems nor the media can recognize the pervasive objective truth about American today -- things are going pretty well. The economy is doing great, unemployment is low, and the markets are confident. We are ending a China trade war with some gains. Borders are more secure. Unemployment is at historic lows. With the exception of small military commitments to Afghanistan and Syria, we are at peace. We are energy self-sufficient, and even climate-change doomsayers must now admit things are not so bad.
The Democrats have a lot of problems. But their biggest one is their grip on reality. As long as that’s the case, whoever they pick in 2020 is not likely to be any more successful than Emmanuel Goldstein.